Three Gorges Dam saw record tourist arrivals

Xinhua, January 14, 2011

The Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydropower project, reported a record 1.45 million tourist arrivals last year, a local tourism company said Tuesday.

Xu Ting, assistant manager of the marketing department of the Yangtze River Three Gorges Tourism Development Co., said the figure was 26 percent higher than in 2009 and up 16 percent from the last record in 2007.

Cruise ships brought 860,000 tourist arrivals, an annual increase of about 40 percent, Xu said.

In the peak travel season, the dam in the central province of Hubei could receive more than 20 cruise ships a day, he said.

The company launched travel promotions last year when the dam discharged the worst floodwaters in decades and water levels rose to the water storage goal of 175 meters for the first time, Xu said.

The Three Gorges Dam is one of five major tourist sites along the Yangtze River and also the country's largest industrial tourist site.

Construction of the 22.5-billion-U.S.-dollar Three Gorges project was begun in 1993 and completed in 2009 in the mid-section of the Yangtze River, China's longest.

It is a multi-functional water control system, consisting of a dam, a five-tier ship lock, and 26 hydropower turbo-generators.

It started generating electricity in 2003.

The 2,309-meter-long, 185-meter-high dam crest was opened to the public in 2005.